Off-Season Training: The Key to Success

Heavyweight crew captain Cary Donaldson describes crew's notoriously difficult off-season program.

"In the winter we lift weights a lot, we [row on an ergometer] a lot, and we row in the tanks [indoor rowing facilities]," Donaldson says. "As the winter progresses we shift to lifting more reps and lower weights so [training] is more like a race."

Pre-season is the ultimate test of an athlete's conditioning and the out-of-shape player's worst nightmare. Each sport has a particularly tortuous regimen to push a player to his maximum and beyond.

"Our bike program is twice a week, and its usually a 15 minute program. A lot of our team gets pretty nauseous," says Famigletti.

"We have [ergometer tests] once a week in the beginning of the year," says Donaldson. "In the winter you have [erg tests] too. That certainly adds intensity because everyone is competitive all the time so the task is to downplay the competition."


Stories still circulate about one collegiate crew coach who told a team after a particularly brutal workout that no one had put in their best effort because no one had thrown up.

Throwing up or not throwing up withstanding, the "no pain, no gain" slogan is the hallmark of any serious athlete's off-season program. As fanatical off-season workers like Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith show, intense off-season training almost always translates into increased success on the playing field.